India-Canada row: India expels senior Canadian diplomat in retaliatory move
India retaliates after Canada expels senior Indian diplomat, with Trudeau alleging that Indian govt may have had links to the killing of a pro-Khalistan leader in Canada
In a retaliatory move, the Indian government on Tuesday (September 19) expelled a senior Canadian diplomat from the country, who was asked to leave India within the next five days.
MEA said, "The High Commissioner of Canada to India was summoned today and informed about the decision of the Government of India to expel a senior Canadian diplomat based in India. The concerned diplomat has been asked to leave India within the next five days. The decision reflects Government of India’s growing concern at the interference of Canadian diplomats in our internal matters and their involvement in anti-India activities."India has described as “absurd” and “motivated” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s allegation that New Delhi was involved in the assassination of a Sikh leader in Canada.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs issued a statement rejecting the allegations by the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that it had anything to do with the death of a Khalistani supporter in Canada.
“We have seen and reject the statement of the Canadian Prime Minister in their Parliament, as also the statement by their Foreign Minister. Allegations of Government of India’s involvement in any act of violence in Canada are absurd and motivated. Similar allegations were made by the Canadian Prime Minister to our Prime Minister, and were completely rejected,” said a statement issued by India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
“We are a democratic polity with a strong commitment to rule of law,” the MEA said.
It said such “unsubstantiated” allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided “shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
“The inaction of the Canadian Government on this matter has been a long-standing and continuing concern,” it said.
India’s reaction came after Canada expelled a senior Indian diplomat, with Trudeau alleging that the Indian government may have had links to the assassination of a pro-Khalistan leader in that country.
Trudeau said in Parliament that Canadian intelligence agencies have been looking into the allegations after Sikh leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a strong supporter of Khalistan, that is, an independent Sikh homeland, was gunned down on June 18 outside a Sikh cultural centre in Surrey, British Columbia.
Trudeau told Parliament that he brought up the slaying with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the G-20 Summit in Delhi last week. He said he told Modi that any Indian government involvement would be unacceptable and that he asked for cooperation in the investigation.
Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said on Monday the head of Indian intelligence in Canada has been expelled as a consequence.
“If proven true, this would be a great violation of our sovereignty and of the most basic rule of how countries deal with each other,” Joly said. “As a consequence, we have expelled a top Indian diplomat.”
“Violation of sovereignty”
In the Canada parliament, Trudeau said, “Over the past number of weeks, Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar.”
Trudeau added that Canada has declared its deep concerns to the Indian government. “Any involvement of a foreign government in the killing of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil is an unacceptable violation of our sovereignty.” Trudeau said his government has been working closely and coordinating with Canada’s allies on the case.
“In the strongest possible terms, I continue to urge the government of India to cooperate with Canada to get to the bottom of this matter,” he said.
Trudeau said he knows there are some members of the Indo-Canadian community who feel angry or frightened, and he called for calm.
Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc said Canada’s national security adviser and the head of Canada’s spy service have travelled to India to meet their counterparts and to confront the Indian intelligence agencies with the allegations.
He called it an active homicide investigation led by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Joly said Trudeau also the raised the matter with US President Joe Biden.
Relations between Canada and India have been tense in recent months. Trade talks have been derailed and Canada just cancelled a trade mission to India that was planned for autumn.
“Targeted by Indian agencies”
Opposition Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre said if the allegations are true, they represent “an outrageous affront to our sovereignty”. Opposition New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh, who is himself Sikh, called it outrageous and shocking. Singh said he grew up hearing stories that challenging India’s record on human rights might prevent you from getting a visa to travel there.
“But to hear the prime minister of Canada corroborate a potential link between a murder of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil by a foreign government is something I could never have imagined,” Singh said.
The Khalistan movement is banned in India, where officials see it and affiliated groups as a national security threat. But the movement still has some support in northern India, as well as beyond, in countries like Canada and the United Kingdom which are home to a sizable Sikh diaspora.
The World Sikh Organization of Canada called Nijjar an outspoken supporter of Khalistan who “often led peaceful protests against the violation of human rights actively taking place in India and in support of Khalistan”. “Nijjar had publicly spoken of the threat to his life for months and said that he was targeted by Indian intelligence agencies,” the statement said.
(With agency inputs)